An Oracle blog about Application UX

Oracle provides beacon of hope to American Heart Association event

By Sarah Smart, Oracle Applications User Experience


Oracle’s investment in emerging technology is nothing new. We want to bring the best in user experience to the Oracle Applications Cloud, and emerging technology like wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) are part of that strategy as they come more to the fore.

So it was no accident when Oracle, a major sponsor of the Bay Area Heart Walk in September, looked to the Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team to lead a project to build a smartphone application that used IoT-style beacons around the course. 


Photo by DJ Ursal, Oracle Applications User Experience 

Participants start off on the Bay Area Heart Walk Event. 


Working with Oracle Volunteers, DJ Ursal, Senior Director, Product Management User Experience, led the cross-functional, cross-organizational team that developed the app, which communicated with the beacons placed at strategic points to show users where they were on the course and other pertinent information. He developed the app with constant thought about how user experience translates to the overall business of Oracle. “You have to look in a very strategic way as to where ideas can translate and what use cases we can come across,” he said. “It’s not just coming up with ideas and use cases; the challenge is finding the real value and viability of it.”
Seems simple, right? OAUX Group Vice President Jeremy Ashley takes it a step further, saying the real problem facing potential users of IoT was not being able to set up a beacon easily. “A very simple and direct app like Heart Walk allowed you to get a beacon, place it somewhere, and be able to program it with an iPad,” he said. “Anybody could walk around with the tablet, put [a beacon] in place, program it, and connect it to an enterprise system.”

The team worked off the American Heart Association’s well-received mobile app presented at Oracle OpenWorld 2014, which bounced off a beacon at the OAUX demo station to give customers information about the demos and an interactive map as they walked around the conference. Ursal’s team delivered the components for the beacons to be integrated into the cloud platform for Heart Walk.

Ursal said the AHA complained in previous Heart Walks that participants had difficulty finding the exact route, including locations of the starting point and relief stations. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we developed this app that would not only give them an interactive map so they’d know where Heart Walk is but also increase awareness of what Heart Walk is offering among Oracle employees and on social media?” Ursal said he pitched to the AHA and Oracle Volunteers. The immediate reaction? “This is wonderful. When can we have it?”

Colleen Cassity, senior director of Oracle Volunteers (@ORCLCitizenship), said the app was piloted with a select group of Oracle employees participating in the Heart Walk. “These Oracle Volunteers were given a very friendly app with a clean and simple interface that allowed them to map the walking path and receive notifications in real time,” she said. 
Screenshots show Oracle’s Bay Area Heart Walk application, which Oracle participants could use during the event. 

“Not only did we create a campaign around the actual day of the walk, but we also did a lot of things with Oracle to focus on our mission,” said Patty Riddle, the event chair of the Bay Area Heart Walk. That mission involves increasing awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke, implementing National Eating Healthy Day in Oracle buildings, offering CPR demos, and more, “not just the day of the walk but a lot of things leading up to it.” She added, “What I loved about [the app] is it incorporated the mission piece where we didn’t really have that engagement on our current app.” It motivated, educated, and kept users connected to the “why” of the Bay Area Heart Walk.

Driven by simplicity

Simplicity was, as always, a driving force in the app's development. “If you just give [users] the app and they’re able to use it immediately, then the app speaks for itself in terms of usability,” Ursal said. “We got that exact reaction from people.” He added that the app was easy to use and offered the features of initial choices for finding events, quickly seeing related social media posts and sharing stories, and watching a welcome video from Oracle President Thomas Kurian. Simplicity is how do you do your transaction and the action you’re supposed to carry out. If you have a certain goal in mind, how easily can you perform the action?


Oracle President Thomas Kurian speaks in a video that welcomed participants to the Bay Area Heart Walk. 

Ursal said the app’s development process confirmed the insights into user experience that Oracle has already researched.

“One of the other messages we already have around UX is our message of 'Glance, Scan, Commit,' ” he said. “That’s exactly what this was validating. You could not only use this app on mobile, but if you had an Apple Watch paired to your mobile phone, you could see all of the notifications we were sending come through it also.”

Participants’ favorite feature? Getting notifications of what mile marker they were at because that’s something that was not marked throughout the route. This contextual information augmented the experience they were already having.

Ashley said the app was an example of a captivating idea that actually translates to something that is useful in the enterprise. “This is how we get from an idea and something that’s interesting … to identifying that it had potential by actually playing with actual enterprise use cases,” he said.

Going forward, turning the app into a product could have major implications for Heart Walkers and even the AHA, Cassity said. “Already, these Oracle Volunteer testers have been asking for additional features, such as the ability to donate through the app, track team recruiting, etc.,” she said.

Riddle added, “We’re super-appreciative of all of the time and support the OAUX team lent to this. We hope we can continue to build on it.” 

Ashley said, "The promising items in emerging tech are the ones that capture the imagination of a person.”

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